Thursday, September 28, 2006

Quitters Never Win ...

... but they also never have their necks broken.

Maybe the Detroit Lions could learn a thing or two from the Oscoda Board of Education.

This might be the most heartbreaking passage:

Tobin said he had to cancel a recent practice when only 10 players came dressed and prepared. Three others had forgotten some of their equipment and a fourth had been injured in building trades that day.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Hold the Relish


I fancy a dash of relish in my tuna salad at times. When I was at the grocer's establishment a while back, I decided to purchase this nifty squeeze bottle of Vlasic Home Style Relish. While the relish itself is same old delish pickle goop, the bottle is a nightmare. Everytime I try to squeeze out a dollop of relish, all I get instead is pickle juice. Either the hole isn't big enough, or there should be a second, smaller hole to allow air in while relish is exiting.

I like crisp, refreshing relish in my tuna, not a pool of green liquid. If someone at Vlasic could fix this product-design snafu, that'd be great.

*****

Schmidt's in town. It's awesome.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Holy Schmidt!

Guess who's coming to town ...

Monday, September 25, 2006

TOSC Hits Big Time!

LA Observed, the leading news blog in Los Angeles, included a link to The Other Style Council in its Monday Buzz post.

Holy holy.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Sunday in the Sun

Gimme a break. Weekends just don't get much better than this. It all seemed to come together on Commonwealth Avenue this wonderful September Sat/Sun.

First and foremost, the Tigers clinch their first playoff berth since 1987. B-E-S-T. As you may or may not know, Gaines and I traded any MSU football wins for the next five years for Tiger success in June. (Sorry Sparty re: ND game)

I've had Yuca's three times since Thurs (three burrito, one dbl chili cheesebest.) In-N-Out last night (protein-stizz, with pickles). Philly Steak twice on Friday (add jalapeno). VIP Oatmeal w/berries 'n' honey at a De La Soul concert this morning in the Coliseum. Brooklyn Bagel Factory onion/poppyseed during NFL. Saw Coolio on USC's "Frat Row" at Mile 4 of the Nike Run Hit Remix. Then popped out "This Or That" with the Dee-are-ee-ess as a Native Tongue reunion broke out at the finish line.

Did I mention the Tigs have the best record in the AL? And the Dodgies just won on a walk-off grand slam by Nomar (Ben still singing next door.) And they just sent my confirmation for post-season tix (NLDS, NLCS & WS...obvs.)

Schmidty. Ye Rustic. Tuesday @ midnight. Go Tigs!

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Hay Hay in London

True to her word, Sister has a new London blog. Leave her a comment!

"The Ghost of Bob Ross Paints Shit Town," by Matthew Vollmer


The online archives of Sweet Fancy Moses represent some of the coolest bits of writing during the past five years. This piece, about the ghost of Bob Ross, is a mind bomb. Do it. Read it.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Damn You, Albertson's Radio

After a quick trip to the store, I have to guiltily admit I've always liked one of the songs playing over the P.A.: Tom Cochran's "Life Is a Highway." I mean, if life is a highway, I too want to ride it all night long (but mostly because there's so much less traffic during the night).

*****

And check out this band. Don't just read this post and not click the link. Click the darn link. At the very least, listen to "Pantalon."

Netflix USA

The LAT does a neat piece on what people across the country are renting via Netflix. Which, by the way, I keep meaning to re-sign up for.

*****

I hit Famima!!, which L.A. is going nuts over, yesterday for lunch. It was O.K. My salad was passable and shrimp inari tasty. But it was a tad pricey (which I guess goes with the Japanese theme), and I wished I had been served by robots instead of boring old humans. But don't take my word for it; my employer's star food writer thinks it's kinda cool.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

I Think I'm Going to Stick With My Target Shades


After I got my contacts, I thought I'd only have these Target specials for a few days. But I think I'm going to stick with the cheapies for a while. How d'ya like them apples?

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Bon Voyage, HEG


In a few hours, my little sister will board a plane to London for a year of study and other sundry activities. This exciting journey further strengthens the Gaines family's connection with that great and worldly city: It's the second visit there for Hayley, after educational tours there by Dad and myself.

Sister is entering a yearlong public-policy graduate-study program at University College London. This is the coolest development in my family in, like, forever. I'm giddily excited that the kid is continuing the internationalist bent she's been on since a middle school trip to St. Petersburg led her to strap on those globetrotting shoes. I can't wait to visit her in the coming months; London is one of my favorite cities, and I'm champing at the bit to return.

Safe and happy travels, Sister o' mine. Keep your eyes and ears open, and drop us a line every now and again.

*****

Salutations to another HEG are in order: Happy birthday to my grandpa Harold Gaines!

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Cap City Love!

The two coolest people in Lansing got married on Friday, uniting to form a superamalgamation of coolness the likes of which we've never seen. Kate Cosgrove and Chris Tyler did the I-do dance at the Grand Ledge Opera House on Friday. I met Kate during my London study-abroad trip in college, and we quickly became friends for life. Chris is a fellow Lansingite, and always a good dude to drink a few beers with.

I had to miss this inevitably joyous occasion because of stupid, dumb work, which is dumb. And stupid. But, I still get to be friends with these upstanding folks, who I'm sure will make an appearance in Los Angeles before too long.

Until then, mazel tov to you both!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Friday Shoutout

I was totally going to write up a juicy post on the Southern Culture on the Skids show, but I'm whupped. Instead, I'm going to send this week's Friday Shoutout to my good friend beer. Beer is one of those friends I can't be around all the time, because many times too much is a bad thing. But on certain occasions, beer eases my neuroses and inflames my self-regard just enough (like driving a manual transmission: all about feel) to allow me to do things like: have a good time, jump up and down at rock shows, and say the things that need to be said.

Wednesday was a great day for beer and me. While our night out together is sapping my ability to throw together a cogent SCOTS post, I wouldn't have had nearly as good a Wednesday as I ended up having. So, many thanks to Kirin draft, Widmer Brothers Hefeweizen, and Bud Light.

READ JOE REXRODE


If you don't buy this book, you're a Michigan fan.

*****

Coming soon: A review of the so-rad Southern Culture on the Skids show I attended last night.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

The Great Chicken Finger Divide


I learned something deeply disturbing about some of my co-workers at the L.A. Weekly last night: At least five of them had never heard of chicken fingers, which were included in our Tuesday-night dinner. I was raving about how good these particular digits were when one of my colleagues asked, "What's a chicken finger, like a claw or something?"

I thought this fellow was just a weird aberration, until I found more and more folks who had never heard of chicken fingers. The geographic breakdown of who had and hadn't heard of my savory, breaded friends was stark: Those from the Midwest, South or Great Britain had heard of them; those from the East or West coasts hadn't. This should give the good people of flyover country one more reason to be suspicious of the dandies on the coasts. I'm certainly considering relocating after this hurtful revelation.

It must be said here that I really love chicken fingers. Whenever I'm forced to eat at a mall-chain restaurant, I order them three times out of five. They're really hard to screw up, and dipping sauces are always a plus. And I like to spread my dipping around: ranch, barbecue, honey mustard ... bring it.

So I'd like to ask the far-flung readership of Rocket Fever to weigh in on this, especially my friends in NYC: Have your native friends heard of chicken fingers? Or are Midwesterners, Southerners and Brits all alone on this?

Monday, September 11, 2006

Lansing, 1999-2000




Good old days in the downtown apartment.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Three From the Archive

Me and my Old Man's Old Man.

Dirty college punk.

Pat and I both own that shirt. We bought them in NYC. I'd give my right arm to know what he and Cook were discussing in that photo.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Friday Shoutouts

I've been in a king-hell bad mood at various times this week, and I have a few people and on cultural entity to thank for keeping my head above water:

  • Becky Amos
  • Pat Muir, and specifically his rousing drunk dial, which included a bit on Jamie Cook as Geisha girl and a detailed discussion of my pectoral muscles
  • Rocket Fever Southern Correspondent Beth Jones
  • Charlie Don't Shake, and specifically "Aragon Blues" and "Big Fat Star" (is that the title? I can't find that CD case.)
  • Katie, and specifically the sweet swag she sent me
  • The continued steady hitting of Clutch Monroe and possible resurgence of Curtis Granderson
  • H&G

Thanks to all of the above.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Sunday, September 03, 2006

“Little Miss Sunshine” and the Middle Distance


There exists that place we look to when entangled in long, deep thoughts. We don’t need to focus our eyes when looking to this place, because what we’re really looking for is beyond our gaze; what we’re seeing isn’t nearly as important as the act of looking. It’s this place, this middle distance, where we reside during those interregnums when we’re helpless to do nothing other than look, and wait, and think. The middle distance is always before us, but only announces itself at certain places: hospitals, courthouses, bedroom windows, vans during long family trips. If you’re like me and you tend to reside within your thoughts for too long, the middle distance is a hideaway, a place that allows what’s inside you to course freely and enables you to become detached from the immediate and physical surrounding you.

I reside in the middle distance frequently, but some times have stood out more than others. I lost myself in a gaze during the drive to the airport on the way to my grandmother’s funeral. My many trips up and down and across this country were spent almost entirely within the middle distance. And it became very sharp and up close while I waited on a bench at the Cuyahoga County Courthouse on the angrily cold January morning of my divorce.

Some of the most arresting images from “Little Miss Sunshine” are the scenes when the ensemble is in the VW van, each character’s eyes gazing into that haze. Somewhere beyond the middle distance might lie relief to the emotional burdens that weigh down the Hoover family. By the time they are traveling from Albuquerque to Redondo, we know what ails everyone, and before we come to the resolutions that await them, these scenes in the van wordlessly communicate the woe those ails engender. They’re striking images to me because they beautifully evoke that inevitable melancholy that descends on travelers during long periods of silent waiting.

I could create a long checklist of elements in “LMS” that evoke moments from my life, but those interludes in the van are some of the most piercing. “LMS” is structured straightforwardly: the characters make plain their problems, embark on a journey toward solving those problems, and finally resolve those problems or at least address them and put them in perspective. The movie’s everlasting success is in the sublime execution of this structure. By the time the Hoovers are rattling across Interstate 40, I understand the challenges facing each character. But it’s those scenes spent in the middle distance when I actually feel what they were trying to conquer.

The middle distance and the concentrated self that is encountered there is proof that there’s something in each of us that can’t be completely revealed to the outside world. And, to some of us, the allure of the middle distance threatens to permanently envelop and arrest us, creating withdrawn figures who shuffle on through the outside world but don’t truly exist in it. The joyous revelation of “Little Miss Sunshine” is when the Hoovers finally break into their shared world and realize the strength and elation of communal triumph. There’s no doubt that by movie’s end the characters still have material problems, but they’ve at least experienced the jolt of looking each other in the eye rather than peering into that place either just before or right after the horizon.